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International Animal Charity WSPA Pushes Animal Welfare to the Forefront of IWC agenda

Jul 7, 2011

New report findings outline a new strategy to advance the protection of whales

BOSTON, MASS. – July 7, 2011 – As the world prepares for the 63rd International Whaling Commission (IWC) Annual Meeting, the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) – which has offices in the U.S., Europe, Central America and many other areas across the world – has partnered with the UK government to put whale welfare on the agenda.

Together, they are championing a new report that will hopefully spark much-needed progress in the protection of whales from cruelty.

The report findings, taken from the Whale Welfare and Ethics Workshop, outline a new strategy to advance the protection of whales. The workshop, held earlier this year, was attended by more than 30 international experts including eminent academics in animal welfare, ethics and marine mammal science. At the IWC next week, which will be held in Jersey, the UK delegation will present the workshop group’s results and recommendations on issues such as:

  • Whale welfare impacts of hunting and scientific research;

  • Unanimous agreement that whales are sentient; they have the ability to suffer and as such we have a responsibility to protect them from that;

  • Agreed specific measures to control human activities which harm whales, including entanglements in fishing gear, ship strikes and poorly-managed whale watching;

  • Particular concern that commercial hunting of whales routinely causes severe and prolonged suffering, which is at odds with most modern commercial slaughter standards.

  • Agreement that research on whales should be subject to independent ethical review, which would analyze the costs and benefits of the research to ensure that whale suffering is minimized.

The international commercial whaling ban, in place since 1986, has been largely successful in conserving the world’s whales and stabilizing their populations. However, WSPA is firmly opposed to whaling on animal welfare and ethical grounds and is looking for the IWC to recognize the breadth of research that demonstrates a whale’s ability to suffer and feel pain.

“The IWC is still in deadlock over commercial whaling and ethical and welfare issues are central to this debate,” said Claire Bass, WSPA International’s Oceans Campaign Leader. “This report provides a highly-credible foundation for the IWC to update its approach to these crucial issues. WSPA hopes that the IWC will listen to the opinions of global experts to bring itself in line with the modern-day commitments and expectations for the humane treatment of animals.”

WSPA also secured crucial formal support for the report from the Buenos Aires Group, an 11-country strong block of Latin American IWC members. The organization will be attending the IWC Annual Meeting next week with the firm hope that the workshop’s findings and recommendations will be approved and acted on.


About WSPA (
The World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) is the world’s largest alliance of animal welfare organizations, currently representing more than 1,000 partners in more than 150 countries. WSPA strives to create a world where animal welfare matters and animal cruelty ends. WSPA brings about change at both grassroots and governmental levels to benefit animals and has consultative status at the Council of Europe and the United Nations. 
For interviews AT the IWC, please contact:
Marco Calvo, WSPA Communications Manager
Tel: + (506) 2562 1200 / Mob: +(506) 8702 1154 (GMT – 6) / E:

***Marco is attending this year’s IWC meeting along with our Oceans experts. Please contact him for breaking reactions and comments as the meeting progresses***

For other questions, please contact:
Laura Flannery, WSPA U.S. Communications Manager
Tel: (617) 275 9711 / E:

Image © Jonas Fr. Thorsteinsson


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